At least 17 of the top commuter and intercity railroads will receive millions of dollars in funding from the US government to increase rail safety with automatic braking systems that are intended to automatically slow down trains that are in potentially dangerous situations.
The Department of Transportation stated last month that it would issue $197 million in funding after commuter railroads have opposed looming deadlines to implement the safety systems, known as positive train control or PTC.
Congress ordered PTC to be implemented by 2015, but commuter rail systems complained that they lacked the funds to meet the date. The new deadline is now the end of 2018. The new federal funds should help the commuter rail lines to meet the new deadline for PTC, which could reduce the chances of train crashes and derailments.
Some of the busiest commuter rail lines in the country welcome the funding infusion.
In Florida, the Southern Florida Regional Transportation Authority will get $32 million to install PTC. This is the second-highest tranche of funding for a single commuter rail group. The Tri-Rail commuter line is 72 miles long and runs through the crowded Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties. Also, the Florida Department of Transportation will receive nearly $2 million funding for the Central Florida Rail Corridor.
According to Federal Railroad Administration Executive Director Patrick Warren, the federal funds for PTC installation will help some of the busiest commuter railroads in the country to improve rail safety for millions of train passengers every day.
In recent years, there have been several possibly preventable train crashes in which PTC could have been a lifesaver. In Hoboken, New Jersey in 2016, a commuter train smashed into a major commuter train station, killing a woman and injuring 100 other people. The train was shown to have been moving at double the intended speed. A PTC system could have automatically slowed the train so that it could have entered the terminal normally.
Research indicates that the implementation of positive train control can lead to a reduction in train-to-train crashes, derailments due to excessive speed, train movements through malfunctioning train switches, and unauthorized entry of trains into work zones.
Our railroad accident personal injury attorneys in Virginia and North Carolina would like to see PTC installed as soon as possible on commuter train lines. There is no doubt that positive train control systems will lead to a reduction in train crashes and derailments that lead to serious injury and death, personal injury lawsuits, and wrongful death lawsuits.
Work is continuing in Virginia to install Positive Train Control (PTC) onto railroad tracks that experts say could have prevented many recent, fatal train accidents, such as in Hoboken, New Jersey, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Virginia Rail Express (VRE), a popular commuter rail line in the state and in the metro Washington DC area, stated in early March 2017 that it is on track to have all trains and cab cars outfitted with PTC in the next few months.
VRE trains are on CSX and Norfolk Southern tracks in Virginia, and Chief Executive Officer of the VRE, Doug Allen, stated last week that the commuter rail line is working with both rail companies to get PTC done.
Allen noted in a press conference that VRE is installing radios and computers, which communicate constantly with the systems being installed on all tracks. Once the system is fully operational, it will be able to stop or slow a train automatically to avoid a train crash or train derailment.
Several recent train crashes on the East Coast have highlighted the need for PTC.
In May 2015, an Amtrak train was going too fast on a curve near Philadelphia. Eight people were killed. In September 2016, a New Jersey Transit train crashed in the Hoboken commuter station, killing one. Many experts believe the train accidents could have been prevented with PTC.
VRE wants to start testing the new PTC systems by September 2017, and hopes to have the system up and running by next year.
Our personal injury and wrongful death attorneys in Virginia are pleased that positive train control is soon to be fully operational on all VRE trains in the Commonwealth. PTC can likely prevent many serious train accidents and derailments that kill and seriously injure many people nearly every year.
Our personal injury rail road accident law firm has handled lawsuits where a train derailed and led to catastrophic personal injuries. Our law firm and co-counsel represented a gas station worker who suffered a traumatic train injury when a Norfolk Southern train derailed and crashed into his workplace.
The man suffered many serious, orthopedic injuries and brain damage. The train crash verdict was $60 million with interest, and we were proud to get that case resolved so the victim could get the medical care he needed.
If PTC can prevent those types of disastrous train crashes, the system will be entirely worth the cost.
Cancer including mesothelioma that is linked to asbestos exposure has been found to kill Maine residents at the fastest rate in the country, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A March 2017 CDC report on mesothelioma and asbestos has brought new focus onto the many dangerous of asbestos exposure. Researchers in that study found that from 1999-2015, the annual death rate due to malignant mesothelioma in Maine was 22.06 per million residents. That is the highest rate in the country. The state of Washington was the only other state that was above death rates of 20 per million.
Across the US, 45,221 people who were mostly male died from mesothelioma in that time period. Mesothelioma is a terrible and incurable cancer of the lining that surrounds the major organs, including the lungs, heart, and digestive organs. It is normally fatal. The sole cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, most commonly in industrial related work decades ago.
The CDC report determined that there was a 4.8% increase in mesothelioma deaths in the above time period. Health officials noted that most of those deaths were in those over 85. This suggests that the asbestos exposure happened long ago. Mesothelioma usually takes 20 to 50 years to develop in people who have been exposed to asbestos fibers.
The report shows that mesothelioma is still claiming many American lives, even though it has been 45 years since the US started to regulate how workers are exposed to asbestos. The EPA currently bans the use of asbestos in many products, but it still is permitted in some products, such as roof shingles.
The CDC stated that mesothelioma deaths have dropped in people under 55. But the fact that there still are deaths shows that some workers still are getting exposure to asbestos.
In the case of Maine, the majority of mesothelioma cases are first diagnosed from the ages 55-84. The CDC report focused on job site exposure to asbestos, but the substance occurs naturally in soil and rock. The study noted that some common Maine industries are higher risk for mesothelioma, such as construction, ship and boat building.
Maine’s homes are also some of the oldest in the US; at least 31% were built prior to 1950. Thus they are more likely to contain asbestos fibers. Materials that have asbestos in them do not usually pose a health risk as long as they are not disturbed. but any renovation or demolition work can cause the deadly fibers to be released into the air.
Our railroad attorneys have handled many mesothelioma and asbestos cancer cases involving railroad workers, who were exposed to asbestos insulating materials which was prevalent on railroad for decades, on steam engines, diesel engines, railroad work places and railroad equipment. The study in the state of Maine has shown that workers with exposure in shipbuilding or other industries that were heavy users of asbestos insulating materials, have been stricken with asbestos cancers 30 to 50 years following their exposures. The same findings apply with railroad workers handling asbestos insulating materials, These workers are turning up with terrible mesothelioma cancer or asbestos related cancers decades after their exposures.
Our railroad mesothelioma attorneys are concerned that the rate of mesothelioma deaths is on the rise. If you or a loved one are suffering from mesothelioma, we suggest that you download our free guide Understanding Mesothelioma and the Devastating Impact of Asbestos on Railroad Workers. This guide will provide you with a good overview of your legal options. You may be able to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit to obtain compensation for injuries associated with asbestos exposure.
A 59 year old man was killed on March 12 in Longmeadow, Massachusetts when his work truck was struck at a railroad crossing by an Amtrak plow train.
The death of the man at the railroad crossing has brought up many worries and complaints from many in the community. Many feel that there should be additional safety features at that railroad crossing, which is in Longmeadow at the crossing on Bernie and Pondside Road.
There is a stop sign at the railroad crossing and a railroad crossing sign. However, residents say the lack of traffic signals or gate arms are a serious danger at the crossing. Most of the other crossings in the area have those safety features.
There have been other ftal crashes at this crossing, and now the Longmeadow town manager is talking about adding those safety measures at the crossing.
He noted that the Department of Public Utilities in Massachusetts has the responsibility and authority to add safety features.
Safety at railroad crossings has improved substantially over the years. Back in 1981, there were 728 deaths at US railroad crossings. That had fallen to 233 by 2015, despite the substantial growth in the US population.
However, in 2016, the total number of deaths at US railroad crossings climbed to 265. Our railroad accident personal injury attorneys hope that this increase is temporary and is not a trend.
Our railroad accident attorneys have seen in past railroad accident lawsuits that serious personal injuries and deaths can occur at railroad crossings.
It is important to realize that while drivers and pedestrians have responsibility to stop at these crossings, there are many federal regulations in play at railroad crossings, and sometimes one of the stakeholders could be in violation of a law or rule that leads to an unsafe crossing.
Federal regulations, for example, set rules for when a train must blast its horn when approaching a crossing. Federal rules further dictate how trees, shrubs and vegetaation must be cut at a railroad crossing to ensure visibility.
The federal rules for railroad crossings are largely laid out in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and another set of standards is issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA).
If you or a loved one have been injured or killed at a rail road crossing, it is important to understand that railroad crossing accidents are very complex. In the case of personal injury or wrongful death at railroad crossings, we employ retired railroad workers as investigators to get to the bottom of the case.
Many people who are seriously injured or killed at railroad crossings are entitled to substantial financial settlements due to negligence on the part of a stakeholder, such as the railroad or the local authority that maintains the crossing.
A leading freight railroad has been urging Congress to pay for passenger railroad companies to install positive train control or PTC on all passenger trains.
BNSF Railway has been one of the leading companies promoting the use of PTC, a technology that will slow a train down automatically that is going over the speed limit.
PTC will eventually be required by law for all freight trains. But BNSF says that the efforts for more train safety will be futile if passenger and commuter trains do not have the same technology; all of the various types of trains share the same tracks.
BNSF is actively urging Congress to fund PTC for commuter rail services. The head of BNSF told Congress this month that he fears that a crash will happen where a freight train has PTC but the passenger train does not.
Congress first gave commuter and freight trains until Dec. 31, 2015 to install PTC. This advanced GPS technology can prevent derailments, collisions, crashes and improper train switching.
But railroads struggled to meet the deadlines and lawmakers gave them until the end of 2018 to comply. However, recent train crashes in New Jersey and elsewhere have increased pressure on stakeholders to get PTC done as soon as possible.
Freight trains are getting PTC installed faster than commuter trains. BNSF recently tested 35,000 PTC segments in the last 60 days, and 85% of them had no problems.
Our railroad accident attorneys have long been advocates of PTC. The idea of positive train control has been around since 2008 when a Metrolink crash in California killed the train operator and two dozen others. In that terrible train crash, the operators was texting a friend on a cell phone, which caused him to run a red light, and tragedy resulted.
President Bush signed a law that would require all railroads to implement PTC systems by the end of 2015. Now the deadline is the end of 2018. We hope it is installed before then because the Federal Railroad Administration states that the system could prevent up to 52 accidents each year.
The new system is expensive and will present both time and financial challenges for railroad companies. But the fact is that the technology will save lives. Also, major freight companies are largely on schedule with PTC. Commuter and passenger trains are lagging, but perhaps with some federal help, they will be able to meet the 2018 deadline as well.
If so, many tragic train crashes, personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits could be avoided.
A man in Oswasso, Oklahoma is blaming faulty railroad lights and gates for him slamming into a train on Feb. 1, causing himself minor injuries and serious damage to his car.
Witnesses say that they were not surprised that the lights were allegedly not working and gates not functioning. Some say that it is a frequent occurence when trains roar through.
A local business owner in Oswasso next to the train tracks stated that trains come through all the time; other witnesses said that when the police came after the railroad crossing crash, the lights were not functioning at the crossing.
Several hours after the crash, railroad workers were working at the crossing. Sometimes the lights were on, but not apparently when they should have been.
The railroad company stated that there was maintenance scheduled on the crossing soon, but it would not say if that was why the lights may have not been working.
According to Operation Life Saver, a rail safety education website, 244 people died in railroad crossing wrecks in 2015, and 967 were injured. However, there has been progress: Railroad crossing deaths have declined by 38% in the period from 2004 to 2013.
Still, railroad crossing accidents can be very severe because of the sheer size and weight of trains. Our railroad crossing accident attorneys have worked on many railroad crossing cases in the last 10 years.
We once represented a driver in Prince William County, Virginia who was hit by a Norfolk Southern train. He and his two children were fortunately not killed but were seriously injured.
Our train accident law firm brought civil claims on behalf of the man and his two children.
Our attorneys did a substantial investigation of the railroad crossing accident. We found that the train crew had not acted in an unlawful manner and we also looked closely at the vegetation around the railroad crossing.
This was a concern because the man had stated that he did not see the train until seconds before impact.
We examined the common laws of Virginia and we demanded a settlement from the insurance policy of the driver and also demanded settlement from Norfolk Southern.
There was a satisfactory result for this train accident case that we handled.
In the above case in Oklahoma, it should be investigated why there are reports that the crossing gates and lights were not functioning when the crash occurred. Also, the fact that the railroad company had scheduled maintenance at the crossing could be a critical factor.
Ex-Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Chief Sarah Feinberg was in the job for only weeks in 2015 when a commuter train slammed into an SUV stopped on the tracks just north of New York City. Six people died in the train crash.
That Feburary 2015 train crossing accident highlighteed a problem that has been with the railroad industry for more than a century: the danger when railroad tracks and roads meet.
Feinberg was a former Obama White House advisor who did not have railroad industry experience, and her appointment got plenty of criticism. She sought a new way of thinking regarding keeping the country’s 240,000 railroad crossings safe. Signals, signs, lights and bells are useful, but what if better technology could prevent many railroad crossing accidents?
Fenberg, who left the job as FRA commissioner with Donald Trump was inaugurated as president, truly tried to embrace her outsider status in the railroad industry.
In a recent interview, she said that she tried to hold railroads accountable when they did wrong. She also said that she had the FRA aggressively policy safety violations; the agency was able to close cases at a higher rate and collect more fine money each year than previous commissioners.
Progress After Tragedy
After the New York City commuter train tragedy, another train derailed near Philidelphia, killing eight. Feinberg pushed railroads to install positive train control (PTC) technology that would use GPS navigation systems to automatically slow trains if one was getting into a dangerous situation.
The technology had long been avaialble, but railroads had slow walked adopting it due to the cost. The industry convinced Congress to delay PTC implementation until 2018, but Feinberg fought back and would not accept any more delays. PTC will begin to be installed in 2018.
Feinberg hopes that the next FRA commissioner will continue to push for new technologies to reduce the number of train crashes and derailments each year.
Our train crash personal injury attorneys in Virginia are glad that ex-FRA Commissioner Sarah Feinberg was such a strong advocate for PTC technology. Our attorneys have been advocating for this technology for years. There is no doubt that PTC can reduce the number of deadly train crossing accidents and derailments that happen every year.
Our railroad crash attorneys know very well the terrible consequences that can unfold in a train derailment. We worked on a record-setting $60 million verdict in a train derailment case in 2000. It involved a gas station attendent who was severely injured when a Norfolk Southern train derailed and crashed into his station.
PTC could prevent those types of tragic railroad accidents, and that is why we so strongly support it.
A Long Island, New York Rail Road commuter train crashed at the end of a platform on Jan. 4 as it pulled into a station, hurling passengers to the floor and slamming them into one another.
The front of the slow moving commuter train hit a bumping block as it was pulling into Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn. The train left the tracks and slammed into some railroad work equipment. A rail also pierced the floor of one of the train cars.
Approximately 100 people were treated for non-life-threatening injuries. Many had been standing up, waiting to get off the train as it slowed.
Many people were carried out of the train on stretchers. Others sat stunned on the pavement, holding ice bags to their heads and bleeding.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the train crash.
Our Virginia railroad accident personal injury attorneys studied this Long Island train accident, and will be watching closely for the NTSB’s conclusions on the cause of the crash. This train crash bears similarities to the train crash that happened in Hoboken, New Jersey last year. In that case, the train engineer may have lost consciousness as the train was pulling into a station. That crash killed one and injured dozens of others. Here, the railroad’s own track maintenance personnel may have been involved in the cause of the terrible crash, time will tell.
In the Long Island commuter train crash, it is possible that the engineer had a medical emergency or was distracted by something as the train pulled into the station. This could have been prevented if the train had been equipped with Positive Train Control (PTC), which would automatically stop a train before it is able to run a red signal orproceed at high speeds into a dangerous situation, because PTC is capable of automatically slowing a train’s speed. The railroad industry has lobbied to delay federal mandates on installing PTC on train until 2018. We fully appreciated that these safety improvements will cost substantial monies, but the railroads must be forced to make concrete strides in moving forward with PTC systems.
Anyone who was injured in the Long Island train crash could have injuries that could take months or years to recover from. In that case, filing a personal injury lawsuit could be appropriate. With appropriate legal guidance from a railroad accident attorney, a railroad accident personal injury lawsuit can result in compensation that can be used to help the injured to recover from their injuries, and to compensate them for lost work time. Our railroad injury law firm lawyers have handled dozens of prior railroad derailments and light rail prior injury cases, throughout the eastern USA and have the knowledge and experience necessary in these type of cases.
A Long Island Railroad commuter train that crashed in Brooklyn on Jan. 4 was traveling at double the speed limit when it slammed into the train station. More than 100 people were hurt, according to federal investigators.
The train was going more than 10 miles per hour when it smashed into the end of the tracks at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn. The speed limit there is five miles per hour. The NTSB is continuing to investigate the crash and has not yet determined the final cause.
The train smashed into a bumping block during the morning rush hour. The train then hit a room beyond the railroad track and caused two cars to derail.
The engineer who was operating the train said that he could not recall the crash. Investigators stated that the engineer was very experienced, having started in 1999 at the railroad. He had started working at midnight and was near the end of his shift.
The NTSB noted that positive train control was not in place on the tracks where the crash happened. This is an automatic train safety control system operated by GPS that can slow trains automatically to avoid hazardous situations. PTC could have been installed on these particular tracks but they have not been.
Our railroad personal injury attorneys have long said that we want to see commuter rail lines in the US fitted with PTC as soon as possible. However, railroads have lobbied congress to delay implementation of PTC until 2018 at least. We hope that this technology is speeded up and installed on commuter lines and trains immediately.
When trains have safety problems and derail, the injuries can be terrible. We once represented a man who suffered massive brain injuries when a train in Hampton, Virginia derailed. It slammed into his gas station. The man’s family chose our firm because of our experience in handling major train derailment accidents. We were glad to have gotten a verdict for the man of $60 million, but we would like to see these railroad derailments never happen again.
A fatal crash and derailment between two Union Pacific trains in Arkansas on Aug. 17, 2014 was the result of a tired engineer and conductor who were likely both asleep on at least one of the trains, according to federal investigators this month.
The dual train crash happened in Hoxie, Arkansas, and the NTSB reported that it could have been prevented by positive train control (PTC), a form of automatic braking operated by GPS, which Congress has mandated to be in place by 2018.
The train crash in Arkansas derailed 55 cars and killed a total of two people – both crew members on different trains.
The NTSB stated that the southbound Union Pacific train hit the northbound train as it was turning onto another track. The southbound train passed two warning lights and a red signal, but did not slow down. There was no activity in the cab of the train before the wreck.
The board did not find the northbound train at fault. Several people on that train were seriously injured.
The engineer in the northbound train had moderate sleep apnea that was diagnosed in 2010.
We wrote about this fatal train crash in Arkansas when it happened. Our Virginia and North Carolina train crash attorneys have long been baffled that railroads have delayed the installation of PTC on their trains. PTC would automatically stop a train before it can run a red signal or get into another situation that endangers human life.
The Federal Railroad Adminsration states that PTC could stop 52 train crashes each year. We hope that railroads will implement PTC before the 2018; it will save lives.
Our personal injury attorneys are experienced in wrongful death and personal injury claims in train accidents. The need for robust state laws involving personal injury recoveries could not be more demonstrated by nationwide railroad highway grade crossing crash cases. While the federal laws provide for it national railroad system, when persons are harmed or killed in railroad crashes, the state laws system supplies the right of recovery for persons that suffer injuries caused by negligence.